Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

 
 
"The Wonderful Century."--A Correction.
(S554: 1898)

 
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to the Editor printed on page 82 of the October 1898 issue of Land and Labour, along with the Editor's rejoinder. To link directly to this page connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S554.htm


     Almost every reviewer who has referred at all to the Appendix to my book, headed, "The Remedy for Want in the midst of Wealth," has stated, with more or less of contempt, that my remedy is "free bread." This mis-statement was to be expected in the case of the ordinary reviewer, but I certainly did not expect to find the same mistake in Land and Labour. On page 381 (the second of the Appendix) I say--"we must recognise the absolute inefficiency of the old methods of charity and other small ameliorations, except as admittedly temporary measures." I then propose the method indicated in my Address to the Land Nationalisation Society in 1895, which is--Reoccupation of the Land, with the Organisation of Labour in Production for the Consumption of the Labourers. In the next two pages I sketch the outlines of this proposal, and give reasons why it is certain to succeed; and I then point out that in Bellamy's new book, it is proved theoretically that it must succeed. This is my Remedy for Want, plainly stated; yet no single reviewer has yet noticed it. I then have a heading, How to Stop Starvation, and the first lines of this section are as follows:--"But till some such method is forced upon our legislators, the horrible scandal and crime of men, women, and little children, by thousands and millions, living in the most wretched want, dying of actual starvation, or driven to suicide by the dread of it--MUST BE STOPPED! I will, therefore, conclude with suggestions for stopping this horror at once; and also for obtaining the necessary funds, both for this temporary purpose and to carry out the system of co-operative colonies already referred to."

     Then, for this temporary purpose, I propose free bread. And after describing exactly how it is to be carried out, I say (on p. 385) "Now, there are only two possible objections to this method of temporarily stopping starvation while more permanent measures are preparing,"--and I then answer these objections. Yet such papers as Literature, The Literary Guide, and, alas!--Land and Labour, charge me with proposing free bread as the "Remedy for Want"!

     To prevent misunderstanding this time, I have put a few of the expressions referring to the temporary character of this proposal, as opposed to the permanent remedy previously described, in italics, which are not used in the book. But, I submit that my statements on the matter are perfectly clear, and that no one who really reads them can possibly believe that I have deliberately proposed free bread as the only remedy I have to offer for that terrible condition of destitution and misery which I have described in my twentieth chapter. There could hardly be a more striking example of the carelessness of a good deal of modern reviewing.

Alfred R. Wallace.

     [We do not think that we misunderstood Dr. Wallace's meaning, in fact, it is not easily misunderstood, even by those who were not previously acquainted with the author's views. So far from intending to suggest that the "free bread" plan was offered as a remedy, the following was the expression used: "An Appendix discussing palliatives for poverty contains almost the only suggestion which is not fairly substantiated--a scheme for the distribution of free bread, &c." In contrasting this with a proposal of a more permanent character, a proposal to give greater security in possession of the home, a wrong impression was probably conveyed, especially as some of the more important parts of the book, with which our readers would be in general agreement, were not mentioned at all, though noted for future reference.--ED., L. & L.]


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